I love the humble bundle. They are getting more and more generous, now including Pack #3 with Pack #4.

I am so confused. Will they last? Are they doing ok? They're putting so much out there, and if you donate less than $1, you get this image img:

And that's it!

Is this really working?

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    \$\begingroup\$ Google around if you want some real numbers. Otherwise its just people giving you opinions. \$\endgroup\$ Dec 20, 2011 at 22:27
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    \$\begingroup\$ Whether or not the Indie Humble Bundle is doing ok or not is really not a question suited for this site. I think the question could be improved if it was about how such a business model works... (also you apparently donated less than $1, shame on you :)) \$\endgroup\$
    – bummzack
    Dec 21, 2011 at 0:35
  • \$\begingroup\$ This is a great question with some great answers. The act of closing it was not constructive. \$\endgroup\$
    – bobobobo
    Dec 21, 2011 at 8:23
  • \$\begingroup\$ @bobobobo As it stands, this is more of a "discussion" question without a single answer. It would work better as a subject in chat, or as something other than "Is this really working?" Rephrasing the question should get it re-opened. \$\endgroup\$
    – thedaian
    Dec 21, 2011 at 19:49
  • \$\begingroup\$ Simply rephrase the question to something along the lines of "What business mechanic allows the Humble Bundle to stay profitable?" \$\endgroup\$ Dec 21, 2011 at 21:38

2 Answers 2


The Concept

The concept this runs around is that most people who pirate are people who wouldn't purchase, regardless of circumstances.

Generally speaking, most of the people who paid little, or nothing, are people who wouldn't have purchased the game anyway, so very little potential profit is being lost from that sector. Furthermore, most of the games involved have been out for a while, and have already peaked, meaning their rate of sale is rapidly declining.

Meanwhile, hundreds of thousands of gamers are exposed to these games, which raises the profile of each of the studios involved. Basically, they use the collective appeal of all of the games combined to boost their studio's fame. This results in the studios having a stronger pedigree, which in turn will lead to increased sales of their future titles.

"Hey, they're the guys that had that great game in the last Bundle; This new game could be good!"

So, by sacrificing the last little dribble of sales from their existing titles, they get to gain (relatively) massive public exposure, public goodwill, and help out charities.

The Reality

The third humble bundle sold over 370,000 copies, at an average of $5.80 per sale. The total amount raised was roughly 2.2 million dollars. There were 7 studios involved, with the average consumer giving 30% of profits to the developers (these numbers gathered from Wikipedia and a variety of other sources, none of which are supremely credible). So, each studio on average made $94,000 in the space of 2 weeks.

Considering that 6 of the 7 games were over 12months old (4 were over 2 years old), which for an indie game typically means it's well past its prime, that last boost in revenue is nothing to sneer at.

  • \$\begingroup\$ This is a great answer \$\endgroup\$
    – bobobobo
    Dec 21, 2011 at 7:29
  • \$\begingroup\$ I thought the concept was that most people who pirate would pay for a game, if it were more reasonably priced. I won't name any names, but I have several friends who pirate most of their games, who were more than happy to pay $5 for the HumbleBundle + bonus games. That may not sound like much for several games normally priced $10-15 each, but when you have 10,000 such pirates suddenly paying for games they'd otherwise steal, that's $50,000 of profits out of thin air. \$\endgroup\$ Dec 22, 2011 at 0:57
  • \$\begingroup\$ That might be true in some cases, and I'm sure every bit helps. Don't forget though, thousands of people not only paid nothing and used the provided torrent, but actually downloaded from the dedicated server, COSTING the providers money. \$\endgroup\$ Dec 22, 2011 at 1:12

In terms of the humble bundle itself, all the iterations have made over $1,000,000 each (divided among charity, the "humble bundle company", and various developers). The Humble Bundle #4 has made about $1,758,970 as of this second. According to the humble bundle #3 stats, it brought in $2,169,341.93. So, the numbers say that the bundle itself is doing well.

Will it be successful in the long term? That's actually something that is up for debate. Opponents of the bundle idea make claims that the money brought in with bundles is actually quite lower than what a game would otherwise make, and it's lowering the expected price point for indie games. It's impossible to say if the bundles are a good thing or not, and anything else is mostly going to be speculation.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Interesting! I had never heard about "indie bundles" before, much less knew they had "opponents" \$\endgroup\$
    – bobobobo
    Dec 21, 2011 at 8:27

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